50 Best Albums of 2013

Vampire Weekend cut the cute and raised the stakes, Kanye assaulted our ears, Bowie shocked the world and Miley tossed a dance-pop party grenade

8

The National, 'Trouble Will Find Me'

Courtesy of 4AD Records

These Brooklyn guys have spent the past decade building their rep as the most resplendent sadsters in indie rock, a band whose ornate music matches the Cure-size heartache of singer Matt Berninger. But on the best record of their career, they pare back that richly ornamental sound to reveal its black-candy pop core. Berninger moans his afflicted romantic entreaties like a man drowning in too much merlot and just enough Leonard Cohen, over tensely coiled rhythms and hazy guitar shimmer. The National's fast songs have never had such immediate surge, and their slow ones have never had such elegiac power. "If you want to see me cry, play Let It Be or Nevermind," Berninger sings on "Don't Swallow the Cap," nailing the album's ambition to make mood-swing rock with old-school gravitas.

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